Pressworks proposals include 23-storey tower on edge of city centre

Glancy Nicholls Architects-designed proposals for a 711-home development on the edge of Birmingham city centre are being recommended for approval at a council meeting later this week.

The practice’s Pressworks scheme for Prosperity Developments covers a 1.2ha chunk of Birmingham’s Smithfield Masterplan area includes a 23-storey tower and other blocks of up to 11 storeys in height. The scheme would also deliver 2,099sq m of new commercial space.

The developers have proposed that 10% of the new homes delivered as part of the scheme will be “affordable”, well below Birmingham’s current target of 35%.

Older industrial and commercial buildings currently occupy the site, which is bounded by Rea Street, Bradford Street, Barford Street and Moseley Street. The tallest of them is three storeys high.

The scheme would be immediately opposite the grade II-listed Anchor pub, a regular winner of the Campaign for Real Ale’s regional pub of the year, and around 350m from the grade II* St Martin in the Bull Ring church.


The Rea Street elevation of Glancy Nicholls’ Pressworks plans

Historic England has expressed concerns about the impact of Glancy Nicholls’ plans on the church, but acknowledged the harm would be in the “moderate” range of the National Planning Policy Framework’s “less than substantial” category.

Birmimgham City Council’s principal conservation officer noted that the scheme would result in the loss of four non-designated heritage assets that are “completely characteristic” of the Digbeth and Cheapside area. They left it up to planning officers to decide whether the buildings’ loss was acceptable on balance.

Lendlease, which is Birmingham’s development partner for the Smithfield Masterplan – but not involved in the Glancy Nicholls scheme – submitted around a dozen grounds of objection to the proposals. They included alleged shortcomings in the development team’s heritage assessment and concerns about “piecemeal development” within the masterplan area.

Officers acknowledged Lendlease’s concerns but noted that other issues raised had subsequently been dealt with.


The courtyard inside Glancy Nicholls’ Pressworks scheme

Recommending the proposals for approval, Birmingham planning officers said the Glancy Nicholls scheme offered the city the opportunity to “continue the transformational change” already under way in the area and deliver a high number of new homes in a sustainable location.

“The scale, design and massing would be acceptable and would enhance the appearance of the site, complementing redevelopment which has already taken place in the vicinity,” they said.

“The development would also contribute towards implementation of the Smithfield Masterplan.”

Birmingham’s Planning Committee meets at 11am on Thursday to consider the application.

Digbeth GM

Source: Google Maps

The site earmarked for Glancy Nicholls’ proposals, seen from outside the grade II-listed Anchor pub